Shakespeare and the Critics

Batori K. Ngabwe

I’d been lying there a hell of a time, and
I reckoned, dammit, all those
years they’d been writing all those
smashing things about me, and
why didn’t I get up, yes,
just this once, and trip back
down to London, shake some of ’em
by the hand – why not?

I was somewhat musty, you can
believe it, and my legs were
creaky and cricky, lying there
so long and all, but I managed
to make the hike to London, where
some convention was on, a
forum with awards and/or
presentations, something along
those lines – no one heard me
knock, so I just pushed open the
door and shuffled right in,
straight down the centre aisle, and
just as I was going to give ’em
the big thank-you, some woman
screamed (soaked up too much, it
looked like, all that hard stuff,
none of your murky old sack) so I
stepped up onto the stage and
tried to get their attention, but
there was this beady-eyed toady
(spectacles and whiskers) grabbing a
gold-plated pen on a teak-slab,
but that damned woman kept screaming, so
the toad turned round and when he
saw me his specs dropped off and
his whiskers fell open and he went
glass-green around the gills and
fainted dead away, and then the
mob was knocking over tables,
smashing chairs and running for the
door, making a bloody great
fracas, crashing, much too
noisy for me, confusing (I
like my peace and quiet, never
could stand bellowing people, old
Ben used to put me off my
drink when he yelled like that),
so I shuffled out the back way,
hit the road for Stratford
saying to myself, forget it:
I tried, I tried – and why not?